Rich Die Old – Poor Die Young in CT


–by Keith M. Phaneuf –October 15, 2018– The CT Mirror–

Up until Sally Grossman became pregnant in 2012 at the age of 30, she had been trying to live without health care. Struggling to get her interior painting business going, Grossman routinely sacriced her health, toughing out painful migraine headaches without medication. In her early 30s, she generally avoided doctors unless they would agree to phone in a prescription for her without requiring an office visit. But when she experienced complications with her pregnancy, she quickly learned that her health insurance didn’t cover prescription drugs or maternity care. “The person on the end of the phone laughed at me.”

Ultimately, it was the state’s HUSKY program – as Medicaid is known in Connecticut – that covered Grossman and her infant son, who was born prematurely. She credits HUSKY with ensuring that her son is alive and healthy today. Despite her current coverage, however, Grossman is one of tens of thousands of Connecticut residents whose access to health care is hanging by a thread, despite Connecticut’s tremendous wealth and strong embrace of the federal Affordable Care Act, health care advocates say.

Rep. Toni E. Walker, D-New Haven Among the challenges is that HUSKY, which covers more than 800,000 low-income state residents, could face steep cuts — either because of Connecticut’s continued struggles with huge budget deficits, or because Congressional leaders succeed in changing how Medicaid is funded. Another factor is that private insurance plans, which cover the majority of Connecticut residents, increasingly come with high deductibles that require people to pay thousands of dollars before their plan begins covering care. This means that while the overall health care system in one of the nation’s wealthiest states ranks high, hundreds of thousands of middle-class residents are seeing their earnings gobbled up by a health care system with outcomes as disparate as income is in Connecticut.

Perhaps the sharpest distinction, according to that analysis, is a life expectancy gap that has been widening since the late 1970s. Simply put, the wealthiest one percent of American women are expected to live 10.1 years longer than the poorest one percent. Among men, the gap is even greater — 14.6 years.

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